Luverne softball season ends in regional tournament

Published 11:21 am Friday, May 16, 2014

The 2014 Luverne softball season that ended early in the regional tournament is a victory in head coach Bridgett Free’s mind.

The Tigers lost their first game 6-1 against Horsehoe Bend High School and their second game 20-5 against Reeltown High School, but Free said the losses were understandable given the constraints of the team’s roster.

“We only had one true pitcher,” she said. “One kid can’t really play that many games in a row without getting tired.”

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Had junior pitcher Savannah Sipper not been the only one able to carry the team at the mound, Free believes they would have “at least won the second game.”

Senior center fielder Shakia Brantley said she had hoped to qualify the state tournament, but was happy with how far the team made it despite their limitations.

“We’re kind of proud of how far we went,” she said.

“We pushed ourselves. We weren’t expected to make it to the regionals, but we worked hard and got there.”

Free said the team will lose four seniors – Brantley, right fielder Brianna Odom, left fielder Sylest Phifer and catcher Nikki Sipper – but she said the 2015 season shouldn’t see the same struggles as this one.

The difference, she said, will come from the “several players who are training hard on their pitching during the offseason.”

Odom said that will be critical for the team’s success after she’s gone.

“The upcoming players will have to work on their pitching and get more aggressive at bat,” she said.

Sipper agreed.

“And they’re going to have to do a lot of hard work at practice,” she said. “They’re going to have to be determined.”